Washington is poised to take action against Russian individuals and entities in retaliation for alleged misconduct including the SolarWinds hack and efforts to disrupt the U.S. election, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.
The sanctions, expected to be announced as early as Thursday, reflect Washington’s goal to balance the desire to punish the Kremlin for past misdeeds and to limit the further worsening of the relationship, particularly as tensions escalate over a Russian military buildup near Ukraine.
The latest moves come just two days after U.S. President Joe Biden warned his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that the U.S. would defend its interests. However, Biden offered the possibility of a summit meeting in the coming months in a third country, drawing a cautiously positive response from Moscow.
Accordingly, the Biden administration is expected to bar U.S. financial institutions from participating in the primary market for new debt issued by the Russian central bank, Finance Ministry, and sovereign wealth fund, according to one of the people familiar with the matter, who noted that the exact timing of the debt restrictions isn’t clear.
The new measures include sanctions on about a dozen individuals, including government and intelligence officials, and roughly 20 entities.
Moreover, Washington is expected to expel as many as 10 Russian officials and diplomats from the country, two of the people revealed.
The restrictions blocking U.S. investors from buying ruble-denominated Russian government debt are believed to be the “nuclear option” in financial markets, in which the bonds, known as OFZs, have been a popular investment. Foreigners now hold about a fifth of that debt, worth roughly $37 billion.